Sunday, November 22, 2009

Early Shabbat

This time of year it gets really hard to explain shabbat to people. I have to get out of lab by four to make it home in time - and this is with no cooking or shabbat prep happening on friday. I do all my cooking and preparing on Thursday, which has led to some pretty late Thursday nights. My typical plan is to get up early on friday and head off to work so that I can still accomplish something. Luckily, in Science you don't need to have regular hours. So long as you are doing your work, no one cares when you do it. I am also lucky my lab does not have journal club or lab meeting on Friday. My PI is also really supportive so I think he'd move it to another day.

My friends in medicine have also been working out their plans for these short days. Whether or not you will work on shabbat as a medical student is a personal halachik question and I am not here to make that decision for you. It is best done by contacting your local halachik authority. Several of my friends and colleagues have come to the conclusion that they will not. The ones at Albert einstein have no problem. The ones elsewhere have found this a stickier issue. Most have decided to contact the directors of the rotations that they are currently on. For the most part these directors are helpful and willing to work with them. Occasionally there is one that isn't, however I have yet to hear of someone being penalized for not working on shabbat in my institution. There has just been some frowning upon it. But if you are firm in your convictions you can withstand the pressure. In addition even when the clerkship director is unhelpful the residents are usually nice and will work something out for you. You may have to sacrifice all your sundays, but its worth it.

These early days are not easy. One of the best things to do is ask senior students how the different clerkships handled their requests so you can schedule yours accordingly. It can be tough to hold firm when someone is telling you "your education will suffer" if you skip a Friday afternoon session but remember your priorities and hold firm! Do not get into ridiculous negotiations. Present your situation with clarity and respect, you might just be surprised to see that respect returned to you.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Learning Not To Think

Sometimes you need to learn how to stop thinking. When you go home from the lab you need to unwind and leave your work at the bench. There's no reason to stay up at night and worry about it. This is possibly the toughest lesson I've had to learn yet.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Remaining calm

Sometimes I have a tendency to hysterics. Wondering, have I made the right lab choice? WIll I ever publish? graduate? However, I find in those moments it is comforting to remember that everyone has these doubts. Some are just better at hiding it than others.

This evening I spoke to a group of girls interested in science careers. At the end of the event one of them commented on how amazed she was that I could be so calm and collected. I had to turn around and make sure they she wasn't referring to someone else. I was calm and collected? impossible. Yet, apparently I had a zen like aura of tranquility. This made me wonder how many other seemingly calm people sometimes wonder if they have made the right choices. In the decided that most of us have our moments, both calm and frazzled. Surrounding yourself with supportive people is key.

It also doesn't hurt when your program will pay for you to go to a conference in Europe and thus you get a two week free vacation. Wondering why I don't post that often? Well, sometimes I'm on these interesting little trips. Sometimes I am just lazy. But I'll try harder. Thanks for being patient.